Links round-up

Hi all,

Can someone please explain to me why, every time it gets even slightly warm for a few days, we get an arctic blast of sub-zero temperatures, like being slapped in the face by an angry snowman? Waiting for spring to actually happen makes me feel like Silvio: just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. I’m so desperate for warmth and sunshine that I’ve started watching the West Indian domestic cricket, just to be reminded what a hot country looks like. One compensation: this amazing video of Shiv Chanderpaul (still scoring runs, aged three-hundred and twenty-four) running out his son. I felt my age when I realised I identify with Chanderpaul Senior, rather than Junior.

  1. Remember in Moneyball, where the woman who inspired the Sabermetrics movement that transformed baseball was being showered with praise? Of course you don’t, because it didn’t feature at all. Sports and statistics are two stereotypically ‘male’ obsessions, but Sherri Nichols, an outsider in each had an important (and hugely under-celebrated) influence on both. A very long read, but worth your time. “I know how hard it is to be in a field where there’s nobody like you… It’s a constant subtle message that maybe you don’t belong, that when you screw up maybe it’s more than just a mistake.”
  2. More on gender: There’s a school of thought that increasing the prominence of female role models in positions of decision making power will spur greater female participation in politics. Here’s another theory of change: put a troglodyte with extremely questionable sexual politics in the top job, and they’ll be so pissed off they flood into the system to force change. Danielle Kurtzleben makes the case. Also: one of the bigger problems with owning a business, if you’re a woman, seems to be that people just don’t want to buy from you.
  3. That sound you hear is the heavenly chorus that announces a new paper co-authored by Nick Bloom. This time, David McKenzie reports on the ten-year follow up to their seminal experiment on management practices in Indian firms, which provided causal evidence that management matters for firm productivity. Incredibly, gains persist ten years later. Even more excitingly, firms that had both plants that received the management support and plants that didn’t demonstrate convergence: that is, the plants that didn’t get the support improved towards the level of the plants that did, demonstrating within-firm spillovers. Equally interesting: the firms that didn’t get any support at all do not converge. Competition is still not quite doing its job. Related: you know what else increases productivity (and exports)? Migration.
  4. Michael Young was a Labour grandee, an architect of the 1945 election manifesto, and co-founded the Open University. He also wrote a book predicting that meritocracy would eventually create barriers to social mobility and cause enormous unrest, and a revolution of sorts, led by the excluded. The Economist reckons this is part of the Brexit story.
  5. Jean Dreze does seem like an amazing man. This tribute, by a fellow Indian academic, is very moving.
  6. I’m a happiness sceptic. Tim Harford seems to be as well. This strengthens my priors substantially…
  7. Lastly, The Ringer are running a Jordan-LeBron week. The basketball side of this question will never be settled (Jordan was unbeatable when he had a very good supporting cast, but before Pippen joined him, he never got out of the first round of the playoffs; LeBron never made teams invincible, but he could pick four dudes from Chicken Cottage on the corner and get to the finals). But this article really gets at why I have far more affection for LeBron than Jordan: he’s a far more inspiring character when you take the ball out of his hands.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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